Friday, January 29, 2021

Update on "SLIDE" Production

I've been working on "Slide" since 2017 and it's been a slow process, for a number of reasons.  One is that I'm financing the film myself (with help from my fans through Kickstarter) and whenever I'm just about to go broke, I make a music video or take on some other job to pay my bills.  But also, I'm really putting my blood, sweat and heart into this film.  I believe this feature will be my epic.  I'm drawing everything that appears on the screen - the characters, the backgrounds, the vehicles, animals and even the special effects. 

So, it takes me much longer to create these scenes than with any of my other films.  Plus, as you'll see, I'm using a different technique than I usually do.  It's a style I used a lot when I was an illustrator - lots of cross-hatching and ballpoint pen.  But I think it looks gorgeous.  It has a feeling of impressionism - the art is kind of blurry and soft-edged. 

So I had my staff, John and Rachel, choose some of their favorite drawings from the production so far.  Just remember that when the film is finished, all this magnificent art will be up for sale.  I hope you like the art - see you next time!

--Bill P.

The Lucky Buck Saloon (exterior)

The Lucky Buck Saloon (interior)

Izzy and Jeb in their office

Delilah being forced to sing

Friday, January 15, 2021

Milton Glaser (1929-2020)

I just learned, to my amazement and sadness, that the great Milton Glaser has died.  Maybe due to the pandemic and my own isolation, I found this out seven months after his death on June 26, 2020 (his 91st birthday!). I realize he was quite elderly but he was a demi-god, or semi-god, to me, and gods don't die.

My first awareness of him was back in college - Portland State - in the late 1960's when my classmate and artistic genius, David Harriman, turned me on to Pushpin Studios in New York, and specifically, Mr. Glaser.

Of course, it was my desire to do something in illustration after school, since I didn't have the technical knowledge at the time to make animated films, which is what I really dreamed about doing.  That's when I fell in love with Glaser's work.

His classic Bob Dylan poster was all the rage at that time - and I copied his different typeface designs for the film and music posters I was creating.  So I started collecting the Pushpin graphic magazine religiously.  Also, I looked for his art in New York magazine (which he co-created).

It was at that time I decided to move to New York City, because Milton taught a class at the School of Visual Arts on design and illustration.  That's it!  I'll move to New York and be one of Milton's apprentices!  So I signed up for classes at SVA, positive that because of the strength of my art that I'd be assigned to his class.  Better think again, Billy Boy - by the time I arrived and saw my class schedule, I realized that Milton's class was a very popular one, and only he chose who his students would be, via a portfolio review. 

Damn, I missed my chance - after two semesters I decided I couldn't afford art school and began to take my portfolio around.  

Here are a couple of incidents that I heard about Milton Glaser that are very revealing.  Apparently, when the Beatles decided to do an animated feature film, with themselves as characters, the producers and George Dunning, the director, asked Milton Glaser to be the design director.  Unfortunately, he was too busy designing restaurants and running his studio to take on such a heavy commitment, so he recommended German illustrator Heinz Edelman, who had a style very similar to Milton's, and of course, he did a super brilliant job.  But the story goes that the artist Peter Max was an intern at Pushpin Studios at the time, and he felt that he should have been chosen for the job.  And because his style is now so close to Milton's, he claims that he was the true designer of "Yellow Submarine". 

And another legendary story, that Mr. Glaser was asked to design a promotional ad for New York City, which at the time was having severe financial and cultural difficulties.  He was in a cab, on his way to meet the client to present his sketches when he got the idea for the "I Love NY" logo.  He sketched it down and the client loved it - but not only that, he decided to make the design copyright free.  He could have been a billionaire if he'd copyrighted the idea - but he wanted to give it to the world, and that's one reason you can see his design in every tourist stop in every city all over the world.  Thank you, Milton!

You'll be happy to know I finally met the great man at an SVA function about 10 years ago - and he was kind enough to chat with me for a while.  Of course, he had no idea who I was - I don't think he was much of a fan of animation.  He's way too busy.  I even sent him a DVD of my film "Your Face" but sadly, I never heard back from him.  

Still, I got to talk to one of my ultimate heroes - who knows how my life would have turned out if I had been able to take his class?  Oh, well, it's too late now.  

Thanks for reading, 

Bill P. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

January Update and Animated Shorts

Well, we finally made it into 2021, relatively safe.  And I'm extremely happy that my Kickstarter campaign was successful.  "Happy Happy Joy Joy!"  Thanks to all of you who helped with your support and who helped spread the word, I'm able to continue working in my studio, and I'll try to finish "Slide" animation this year. 

Right now I'm drawing my ass off (figuratively), doing about 15 seconds of animation per day.  I would love to finish the animation by this spring, that's my goal.

Also, at the same time, I'm watching all of the animated shorts that have qualified for the Oscars in 2020 - all 96 of them.  And some of them are over 20 minutes long - please, animators, try to make shorter films!  20 minutes is just too long for a short film - it's hard for me to vote for such a film. 

Also, I'm watching animated feature films - the latest was "Soul", directed by Pete Docter of PIXAR.  Now, you all know how I love PIXAR films, John Lassiter and his crew really revolutionized the movie business.  They made animation the leader in box office income.  

However, I must say I had some problems with "Soul", it's about a guy who loses his soul, and the problem for me was that there were too many ectoplasmic characters that had different roles and rules. And these rules never made much sense to me.  All these strange characters from an alternative mindscape never connected with me.  I didn't understand them and didn't really care about them.  What was that pirate all about?  

It's too bad, because I found the normal real-life characters totally engaging and beautifully rendered.  From a purely visual standpoint, "Soul" is a delight, but as an engaging story, it failed - which is rare, because PIXAR is usually very strong in the story department.  

Well, here's my first gag cartoon of the new year.